Every morning, I turn on a radio that I purchased while incarcerated. When it broke during my transfer to another prison, I sent it to my niece in Chicago to keep it safe. Upon my release, I immediately sought to repair it.
This radio is special to me. It reminds me of where I came from and why I can’t go back. And it reminds me that, despite my justice involvement, I have changed. I still feel deep remorse for my past mistakes, but I have to remember to keep moving forward.
While incarcerated, I began doing just that. I wanted to redeem myself, so I changed my behavior, and obtained culinary and counseling certificates. When the parole board finally announced my release, I sat down and cried. After 44 years in prison, it was time for a new beginning. I could now positively contribute to society.
Reentry was challenging, though. Released with only 40 dollars in my pocket, I had to adjust to a drastically different society from what I remembered. I spent my first night of freedom at a men’s shelter, but eventually found my way to The Fortune Society. That’s when everything changed for the better.
When I arrived here, Fortune’s staff gave me a safe place to stay at their transitional housing unit, The Castle. There, I immediately found the support I needed to put my past behind me and work toward a new future.
Thanks for Fortune’s Anger Management classes, I became comfortable with safely articulating my emotions for the first time in my life. In addition to improving my mentality, I’m also overcoming drug use through Fortune’s Treatment Services program. Now, looking ahead to a hopeful future, I would like to put the certificates I earned in prison to use and find my own apartment.
I’ve only been at Fortune for a few months, but my life has already changed in big ways. Fortune understands that I am more than my worst deeds— they gave me a second chance. The staff here has encouraged me to move past my mistakes and focus on paving a successful future. With their continued support, I know that I can do that.
*By Norman Latham